I am sitting alone on the beach and it is sunset. I have just spent a beautiful week visiting a friend from my Taglit trip a year earlier. We were staying at Hotel Miguel, a shady little hotel, but right on the beach. He speaks little English and I speak little Hebrew but we shared an unexplainable connection. He has left for work and I am waiting to be picked up by another friend from Taglit. As I sit on the beach I think about the wonderful friendships I formed on my previous trip to Israel. I think about how different our lives are although we are the same age. I am a senior at an American university, studying for a semester in Rome, Italy and they are just finishing the army. In one way, however, it seems that we have all arrived at the same moment in life. We are beginning a new chapter of our lives, and we are free to go wherever our hearts take us. As I sit there I have an epiphany. I think that I can do anything, go anywhere, as long as I follow my heart. At this moment, while I watch the sun set the waves on fire, I feel at one with the universe and at one with these friends with whom I shared two weeks exploring Israel. We come from different places but we are all heading in the same direction.
I went to the garment district, I think, a small area where there are a lot of fabric shops to buy the fabric for my wedding dress. My fiance and I went to travel and elope there in Israel, hoping to find our home. It wasn’t until years later that I had an epiphany, that Israel was not to be my new home. I haven’t been back since, it’s been over 7 years.
A sunny spring afternoon. My 5 year old son is turning cartwheels in the middle of the square. Two small children walk up and watch for a moment. “What a funny *Kushi* child,” one says to the other. They walk off.
My son stop, stares after them, walks to me slowly. “Daddy, those children laughed at me because I’m black.”
I pause. What can I say? The truth as I see it, I suppose.
“And what’s funny about being black?” I ask my son.
He chews it over for a moment. He smiles. “Nothing.” And runs off, to continue turning life upside down.
After 7 years in the country and 4 years self-employed, and having come through Intifada I and Gulf War I, it looked like it was time to move my professional practice out of a spare bedroom and into a regular office.
There are, at most, three degrees of separation in Israel. So I quickly found a troubled advertising agency (no conflict with my practice) that was willing to sublet three rooms. Over the phone, they said “40 square meters, 14 dollars per month per meter”. Standard office rent at the time.
At the meeting with the woman in charge, she produced a floor plan of the rooms with dimensions. My engineering reflexes made me draw my pocket calculator and start checking stuff.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Checking that the areas involved add up” was my innocent answer.
“Oh, drop that. How many square meters are you willing to pay for?”
Instant enlightenment ensued: in the Middle East, reality is negotiable.